“However, take care and be earnestly on your guard
not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen,
nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live,
but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.” (Dt 4:9)
Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young had a hit song many years ago called “Teach Your Children Well”. I used to sing along with it loudly as it played on the radio. When I hear it, I still sing it from memory. It had a catchy tune and also a great message.
That is the same message inherent in both readings at today’s Mass: the importance of teaching children and teaching them correctly.
If there is one thing that is missing in children’s lives in today’s world, it is instruction from their parents. Children crave to learn things from their parents. However, many parents either are not around in the first place or do not have the time or the inclination to speak to, let alone teach, their children anything. Instead, the parents leave all the education up to their children’s teachers, coaches, peers, and other people.
A problem with that is the education they get may not be exactly what the parent desired. Even more, the “education” that they get may go against the children’s faith and/or morals.
We are responsible to make sure that we communicate our faith to our children. No one is as responsible as the parent. I often remind parents of that in our sacrament preparation classes. I tell them that we do not “teach the faith” at our parish school. That would be rather impossible. The best that we can do, I tell the parents, is to reinforce the faith that is being taught at home.
For example, if we attempt to teach the children the value of honesty but the children see their parents lying at home and if their parents insist that the children lie as well (“tell them that I’m not home” is a common example when the child answers the phone and the parent does not want to be bothered), what can we possibly “teach”? The lesson is being taught at home that lying is permissible if not downright desirable.
Parents abdicate, all too easily, their responsibilities when it comes to instructing their children in the faith. Yet the first reading was an admonition from the very time of Moses to “teach your children and your children’s children.” In the Gospel, Jesus spoke about teaching the commandments and teaching them correctly. He indicated that there would be repercussions for teaching others to break the laws set down before them.
Parents, teach your children well. The best way to do so? Live your faith well! Transmitting the faith to our children is crucial. It is how the faith has been spread through the centuries and, indeed, through the millenia.
FAITH ACTION: Take some time this day to teach your child or children an aspect of the faith. Perhaps it would be to teach them to pray the rosary. It might also be to teach them how to look up passages in the Bible. Find a way to teach the faith that you hold so dear.